The Manorial System Common People

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The Manorial System
Common People 

The common people were peasants, and serfs. There was a difference between a peasant and a serf.

Serfs were bound to the manor. They were not slaves. These people could not be bought and sold. But they could not leave the manor without permission. 

If they did not work, they were punished. If the manor land was sold or reassigned to a new owner, the serfs stayed with the land. 

Serfs had many jobs on the manor including craftsmen, bakers, farmers, and tax collectors - serfs did all kinds of jobs. Their jobs were assigned. They had to do the job they were assigned to do. 

Serfs could buy their freedom from the manor, but where would they get the money? Besides, in these violent times, being part of the land offered a certain amount of protection. If a new lord took over the manor, he would need the serfs for labor. 

Peasants were free to leave if they wished, but where would they go? War was everywhere. Peasants worked the land and made the goods in exchange for protection. They might own their own business or have room enough for garden of their own. Other than that, their life was just like a serf's life. A few peasants escaped the hard work on the farm by joining the church. But most lived and died on the manor where they were born.

Taxes: Everyone had to pay taxes to the lord. There was a payment due on every service they received. To pay the crop tax, some crops went to the lord, and some they kept. To pay the bread tax, some bread they made went to the lord, and some they kept. To pay the coat tax, some of the warm coats they made went to the lord, and some they kept. All peasants had to set aside a certain number of days each year to work on the roads or on the lord's home or on whatever else needed doing. Everything was paid in barter. Coinage or money did not exist on the manor. 

Church Festivals: The only time commoners had a chance to relax and enjoy each other's company was at a church festival. Festivals offered stage plays, which were religious in nature, along with archery contests, wrestling, dancing, and singing. Often there were jugglers and magicians. Festivals were held often. Payment for the festivals was the responsible of the lord of the manor. The lord paid for the festivals by giving the church food and clothing the peasants had made. 

Power of the Priests: People believed that the only way to get to Heaven was to follow the teachings in the Bible. The common people could not read or write. The village priest read to them from the Bible and told them how to behave. The priest told them who they must marry and when. You had to do everything the priest said if you wanted to get to heaven. 

Feudal Obligations: In spite of the hardships of their lives, peasants and serfs were mostly content with their lot. For one thing, they knew no other life. For another, they knew their work kept everyone on the manor fed and comfortable, including themselves. 

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